‘Tis the Season of Sequels, Adaptations and Remakes
Once again, the Hollywood studio execs, ever conscious of the bottom-line, have adopted a cautious approach to this summer’s fare, investing primarily in blockbusters with a proven pedigree. As a result, the bulk of the big budget flicks set to be released soon are sequels, spinoffs, prequels, remakes, 3-D revivals, English-language versions of foreign film favorites, and screen adaptations of classic TV shows, novels, comic books and cartoon strips.
But just because you might already be familiar with a flick doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have fun with that franchise’s latest incarnation, After all, the proof is still in the pudding in terms of whether what’s served up is A-1 entertainment or a take-the-money-and-run rip-off. Among the most eagerly anticipated offerings are the kiddie animated adventure Toy Story 3; Eclipse, the third installment in the Twilight series so popular with teens; The Karate Kid, a remake produced by Will Smith and co-starring his son, Jaden, opposite Jackie Chan; Inception, another sophisticated psychological thriller from Christopher Nolan, director of Memento; and Knight and Day, an action comedy reuniting Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz for the first time in almost a decade.
Now, without further ado, may I present a chronological listing of the delectable diversions you might enjoy while sitting in an air-conditioned theater during the impending dog days of summer.
Sex and the City 2 (5/27) Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon and Sarah Jessica Parker all return for this sequel which has the decadent, NYC quartet reuniting a couple years later for an eventful, all expenses paid getaway to Abu Dhabi. Cast additions include Miley Cyrus, Penelope Cruz and Liza Minelli.
Kites (5/28) Bollywood-produced romantic thriller about a wanted Hindu (Hrithik Roshan), wounded and left for dead in the scorching Mexican desert, who stays alive by clinging to the hope of a reunion with the love of his life (Barbara Mori) even though they can’t communicate because she only speaks Spanish and is already engaged to somebody else. (In English, Hindi and Spanish with subtitles)
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (5/28) Medieval action fantasy, based on the video game of the same name, about a rogue prince (Jake Gyllenhaal) who reluctantly joins forces with a rival princess (Gemma Atherton) in order to keep an ancient dagger said to have supernatural powers from falling into the clutches of a diabolical despot (Ben Kingsley) bent on world domination. With Alfred Molina, Richard Coyle and Steve Toussaint.
Get Him to the Greek (6/4) Intercontinental road comedy about the hijinks which ensue when an ambitious intern (Jonah Hill) is assigned to escort an over-imbibing, womanizing rock star (Russell Brand) from London to L.A. for a comeback concert. Spinoff of Forgetting Sarah Marshall features Rose Byrne and Sean Diddy Combs, with cameos by Christina Aguilera, Pink, Pharrell, Meredith Viera and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman.
Killers (6/4) Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl co-star in this action comedy about an international spy who retires from the CIA to settle down in suburbia with the girl of his dreams only to discover they’re being trailed by vicious assassins intent on killing them. With Tom Selleck, Martin Mull, Catherine O’Hara and SNL’s Casey Wilson.
Marmaduke (6/4) Live action adaptation of the popular comic strip features Owen Wilson as the voice of the clumsy, if lovable, Great Dane. Road comedy revolves around the pet and his owners’ misadventures as the family relocates from Kansas to California. Cast includes William H. Macy, Judy Greer and Anjelah Johnson, with voiceover work by George Lopez, Marlon Wayans, Sam Elliot and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
Splice (6/4) Sci-fi horror flick about a couple of renegade scientists (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) whose ethically-questionable experimentation splicing together human and animal DNA results in the creation of a beautiful but dangerous winged mutant (Delphine Chaneac).
The A-Team (6/11) Screen adaptation of the pyrotechnics-driven TV series from the Eighties chronicling the exploits of a squad of former Special Service soldiers determined to clear their names after unfairly being branded war criminals. With Liam Neeson as Hannibal, Bradley Cooper as Face, Sharlto Copley as Murdock and Quinton Jackson as B.A. Baracus.
The Karate Kid (6/11) Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan co-star in this Beijing-based remake of the 1984 screen classic about a 12 year-old newcomer to China being bullied at school whose unassuming janitor agrees to help him master the martial arts so long as he promises not to question the seemingly-unorthodox training regimen. With Taraji P. Henson, Tess Liu and Harry Van Gorkum.
Jonah Hex (6/18) Screen adaptation of the DC Comics series about a scarfaced bounty hunter of last resort (Josh Brolin) who cuts a deal with the U.S. military to track down his archenemy (John Malkovich), a frightening terrorist threatening to unleash hell. With Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Thomas Lennon and Aidan Quinn.
Let It Rain (6/18) Character-driven drama about the sibling rivalry which bubbles back to the surface when a feminist (Agnes Jaoui) with political ambitions returns home to the family manse in the South of France to help her unhappily-married sister (Pascale Arbillot) put their recently-deceased mother’s affairs in order. (In French with subtitles)
Toy Story 3 (6/18) Revival of the animated franchise finds Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the gang in a daycare center after being accidentally thrown away by the mother (Laurie Metcalf) of their now college-bound owner, Andy (John Morris). Voice cast includes Joan Cusack, Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Keaton, Bonnie Hunt and Jeff Garlin.
Grown Ups (6/25) Buddy comedy about five former teammates (Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James and Rob Schneider) who, in honor of their recently-deceased basketball coach, reunite for the first time in years to runamuck over the 4th of July weekend at the same lake house where they celebrated winning a championship as kids. With Maya Rudolph, Salma Hayek, Tim Meadows, Maria Bello, Steve Buscemi, Norm Macdonald and Gary Busey.
Knight and Day (6/25) Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz reunite for the first time since Vanilla Sky for this action comedy about a Plain Jane from the Midwest who unwittingly goes on a blind date with a dashing international spy only to become embroiled in a globetrotting adventure where they must prevent a piece of technology holding the key to infinite power from falling into the wrong hands. With Maggie Grace, Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis and Paul Dano.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (6/30) Episode three in the fantasy saga opens with high school graduation fast approaching, and Bella (Kristen Stewart) being forced to choose between her love of a vampire (Edward Pattinson) and her friendship with a werewolf (Taylor Lautner). Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest again finds itself plagued by a string of mysterious slayings. With Anna Kendrick, Dakota Fanning and Bryce Dallas Howard.
The Last Airbender (7/2) M. Night Shyamalan directs this initial offering in a live- action trilogy based on the popular, animated TV show “Avatar.” First installment in the sci-fi fantasy series opens with the world at war and on the brink of destruction and revolves around the attempt of a young boy (Noah Ringer) to restore peace with the help of a couple friends (Nicola Peltz and Jackson Rathbone) and a flying bison (Dee Bradley Baker). With Dev Patel, Ali Khan and Rohan Shah.
The Kids Are All Right (7/7) Family comedy about the fireworks which ensue when two teenagers (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) conceived by artificial insemination by a lesbian couple (Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) decide to track down their anonymous, sperm donor father (Mark Ruffalo).
Despicable Me (7/9) 3-D computer-animated comedy, set in an otherwise idyllic suburban neighborhood, where a wicked weirdo (Steve Carell) with a black house and a dead lawn is secretly hatching a diabolical plan to steal the moon with the assistance of an army of minions. Hope for averting the disaster rests with three orphans (Dana Gaier, Miranda Cosgrove and Elsie Fisher) in need of a father who see some potential for redemption in the evil villain. Voice cast includes Kristen Wiig, Jason Segel, Danny McBride, Will Arnett, Dr. Ken Jeong, Russell Brand and Julie Andrews.
Predators (7/9) Sci-fi sequel about a group of elite warriors who discover that they were brought to another planet by a race of bloodthirsty alien creatures to be hunted like prey in a human game reserve. Cast includes Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Laurence Fishburne, Alice Braga and Danny Trejo.
Cyrus (7/9) Dysfunctional family comedy about a divorced guy (John C. Reilly) who thinks he’s met the woman of his dreams (Marisa Tomei) until he has to deal with her 21 year-old son (Jonah Hill) still living at home. Supporting cast includes Catherina Keener, Matt Walsh and Zosia Mamet (daughter of David).
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (7/16) Live-action remake of the Mickey Mouse segment of Fantasia updated as a latter-day tale, set in Manhattan, where a magician (Nicolas Cage) enlists the assistance of a college student (Jay Baruchel) to do battle with his evil archenemy (Alfred Molina). With Monica Bellucci, Teresa Palmer and Omar Benson Miller.
Inception (7/16) Christopher Nolan directs this sci-fi, psychological thriller about a master thief (Leonard DiCaprio), capable of hacking into people’s subconscious minds while they’re in the dream state, who plans to pull off the perfect heist by implanting an idea inside of someone’s head. Cast includes Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Salt (7/23) Angelina Jolie plays the title character in this espionage thriller about a disgraced CIA Agent-turned-fugitive who goes on the run to try to clear her name after being falsely accused of being a Russian spy. Cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Liev Schreiber and Zoe Lister Jones.
Dinner for Schmucks (7/23) English-language remake of The Dinner Game, the French farce about a businessman (Paul Rudd) who invites a naive simpleton (Steve Carell) to a party where a prize goes to the guest who brings along the biggest buffoon. Cast includes Zach Galifianakis, Bruce Greenwood and Ron Livingston.
Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (7/30) 3-D sequel to Cats and Dogs finds the canines and felines joining forces this go-round after a tabby spy (Bette Midler) goes rogue and hatches a plot to conquer the world. Starring Fred Armisen, Chris O’Donnell and roger Moore, with voice work by Alec Baldwin, Michael Clarke Duncan and Joe Pantoliano.
Beastly (7/30) Modern-day take on Beauty and the Beast reimagined as an urban tale about a school bully (Alex Pettyfer) who finds himself transformed into an ugly monster when a Goth classmate (Mary-Kate Olsen) he teased casts a spell on him. To undo the curse, he must find a woman (Vanessa Hudgens) willing to love him in this hideous state. Cast includes Neil Patrick Harris, Lisa Gay Hamilton and Rhiannon Moller-Trotter.
Middle Men (8/6) Luke Wilson stars in this crime comedy, set in 1995, about an entrepreneur who became filthy rich by helping a couple of shady characters (Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht) streamline their internet porn business. With James Caan, Terry Crews, Kelsey Grammer, Christopher McDonald, Laura Ramsey and Kevin Pollak.
The Other Guys (8/6) Unlikely-buddy comedy about a couple of grounded NYPD detectives, one (Will Ferrell), a dimwit, the other (Mark Wahlberg), a hothead with an itchy trigger-finger, who do their best to measure up to their highly-decorated idols (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson) when finally assigned street duty again. With Eva Mendes, Paris Hilton, Michael Keaton and Anne Heche.
Step-Up 3-D (8/6) Channing Tatum reprises his lead role in round three of this dance-driven franchise which pits a tight-knit team of New York street dancers against some of the best from the world of hip-hop in a high-stakes showdown. Cast includes Alyson Stoner, Harry Shum, Jr. and Adam G. Sevani.
Eat, Pray, Love (8/13) Julia Roberts stars in this screen adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir about a miserably-married career woman who quits her job and divorces her husband (Billy Crudup) to embark on a globetrotting journey of self-discovery financed by an advance from the publisher who purchased the rights to her book. With Javier Bardem, James Franco, Viola Davis and Richard Jenkins.
The Expendables (8/13) Sly Stallone wrote, directed and stars in this political potboiler about a team of mercenaries on a mission to overthrow an evil, South American dictator (David Zayas) who discover that they’ve been double-crossed by a traitor in their midst. Cast includes Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (8/13) Michael Cera stars in this romantic comedy based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic comic book series about a bass playing, 23 year-old slacker in a garage band who discovers that he must contend with seven, evil ex-boyfriends before he can win the heart of the girl of his dreams (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Cast includes Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Jason Schwartzman, Ellen Wong and Brandon Routh.
Lottery Ticket (8/20) Bow Wow stars in this inner city comedy about a lotto winner from the ‘hood eager to claim his $370 million prize who first has to survive a weekend in the projects hiding his ticket from all the scheming opportunists aware of his good fortune. Ensemble includes Ice Cube, Mike Epps, Terry Crews, Charlie Murphy, Naturi Naughton, Keith David, Loretta Devine, T-Pain and Bill Bellamy.
Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (8/20) Emma Thompson reprises the title role in this sequel set during World War II in the English countryside where the no-nonsense nanny with magical powers arrives in time to help an overwhelmed young mother (Maggie Gyllenhaal) saddled with responsibility of raising her rambunctious kids and tending to the family farm alone while her husband (Ewan McGregor) is fighting on the front lines. With Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes and Rhys Ifans.
Takers (8/20) Crime caper about a very successful gang of bank robbers (Chris Brown T.I., Idris Elba, Paul Walker, Michael Ealy and Hayden Christensen) who decide to pull off one last heist before retiring only to come up against a hard-boiled detective (Matt Dillon) intent on cracking the case. With Zoe Saldana, Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Jay Hernandez.
Going the Distance (8/26) Bicoastal romantic comedy about the trials and tribulations of a journalist (Drew Barrymore) and a music scout (Justin Long) trying to maintain their relationship after she moves to San Francisco while he stays behind in New York City. With Christina Applegate, Ron Livingston and Kelli Garner.
The Last Exorcism (8/27) “Found footage” horror flick about a crooked evangelical minister (Patrick Fabian) who decides to come clean by allowing a documentary filmmaker to shoot him performing another phony exorcism on a gullible subject only to get the shock of his life when the teenager (Iris Bahr) he’s been summoned to help turns out to be truly possessed. With Louis Herthum, Ashley Bell and Tony Bentley.